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ABI Taking Care of Business Conference 2023 – Brandon Williams Keynote Summary


By Katherine Harrington, President & CEO | West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce

Some of the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Team had the meaningful opportunity to attend the Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Taking Care of Business Conference this year in Cedar Rapids. It was a jam packed three days of networking, breakout sessions, keynotes, and celebrations. It was incredible to see leaders around our beautiful state share knowledge and helping to advance business. Since 30% of the WDM Chamber’s members are outside of our city, we wanted to make sure we had the chance to connect with others from around the state and learn from some of the best people and companies in America. And indeed, we did.

One keynote address (of the many) I enjoyed was from Brandon Williams. Brandon is the Founder and Owner of Lead Tac. Brandon is a former U.S. Air Force F-15E Fighter Pilot and Officer. He emphasized the importance of creating high-performing teams in the face of challenging business environments. Here’s a summary of his key points:

  1. Intense Focus: In order to align a team, it is crucial to have intense focus on the purpose and vision of the company. Having a narrow focus with clear and concise goals is essential. Avoid having too many priorities to enable the company to hone in on what truly matters.
  2. Human-Factored Leadership: Effective leadership involves several aspects, including understanding the leader’s intent, maintaining situational awareness, identifying areas of vulnerability, and being aware of the timeline required for producing results. Leaders should have a clear one-goal focus and ensure that the team is aware of it.
  3. Complacency and Healthy Paranoia: Complacency can be detrimental to a team’s success. It’s important to foster a healthy sense of paranoia that keeps the team alert and focused. Peer accountability and mutual support are also vital for team growth and improvement.
  4. Areas of Vulnerability: Companies need to identify and address areas of vulnerability, which can include people, environment, actions, and resources. Building trust, mutual support, and camaraderie among team members helps create a culture of open and honest communication.
  5. Accountability and Continuous Improvement: Leaders must hold themselves and others accountable. Conducting debrief sessions, similar to those in the military, can help identify shortfalls and develop solutions for improvement. Openly discussing what went right and what went wrong enables learning and progress.
  6. Effective Crisis Management: When faced with challenges or crises, a leader should maintain control, stay calm, analyze the situation, and take appropriate action. It is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of the team and address the situation as soon as conditions permit.
  7. Additionally, taking down communication barriers and fostering a culture where team members can openly discuss what happened, what was learned, why it happened, and how to do better in the future promotes continuous growth and improvement.

These insights provide a foundation for creating a high-performing team that can navigate volatile and challenging business environments effectively.

Thank you to the entire team at ABI for making this keynote and ALL of the great events happen. If you have never attended this conference, we highly recommend it. A big thank you to the sponsors who helped to make this event and the fun celebrations possible. We hope to see you again next year!

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